Dubai: Lufthansa will not be moving to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) in 2014 or 2015 because it lacks the necessary infrastructure, an executive at the German airline has said.
“We have no plans to move to the new airport … I don’t see the infrastructure yet being ready for our wide body [aircraft],” Carsten Schaeffer, Vice President of Sales and Services for Southeast Europe, Africa and Middle East/Pakistan said at a media briefing in Dubai on Wednesday.
The Lufthansa executive’s comments may put a dent in Dubai Airports’s (the management team behind Al Maktoum International and Dubai International) bid to boost the new facility’s image. The new airport currently has three airlines — Wizz Air, Jazeera Airways and Gulf Air — flying from the airport. Qatar Airways will launch services in March.
A Dubai Airports spokesperson stated to Gulf News that it understands and respects the need for airlines to make decisions based on their commerical and operational preferences.
Earlier this week Mohammad Abdullah Ahli, Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCA) said that a set of European airlines are ready to begin operations at Al Maktoum International next year. He would not, however, disclose their names.
“We will not be one of them,” Schaeffer said.
“We all know what the plans are [for DWC] and we look forward to it. Infrastructure is key to our business but at this point in time the European carriers I understand moving there are smaller [and] different kind of operations,” he said.
The Lufthansa Group, which includes Swiss and Austrian, will cut the number of services it offers out of Dubai International later this year due to scheduled runway repairs that will reduce capacity at the airport. The airlines could have opted to briefly move to Al Maktoum International between May 1 and July 20.
“To bring up operations at another airport is related to higher costs … its always confusing for passengers and we want to make sure if you’re catching a Lufthansa Group flight that you’re not confusing passengers,” a Lufthansa spokesperson said.
Other airlines, such as flydubai and Royal Brunei, have opted to split their operations between the two airports during the 80-day period.
Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA, Centre for Aviation, told Gulf News that airlines are still weighing up the difference in cutting flights versus the costs of a split operation.
“Splitting operations cuts onward connectivity options, even for foreign carriers,” he said. “The most basic concern is if passengers will go to the wrong airport.”
Lufthansa currently operates four daily services into Dubai International and in 2013 it carried more than 1.1 million passengers to the Middle East, a 10 per cent year-on-year increase. Lufthansa’s regional destinations also include Muscat and Kuwait.
John Strickland, director of UK-based aviation advisory JLS Consultants, said, “if you have only a modest operation with limited frequencies to an airport it is very difficult to split.”
“There would be duplication on manpower and equipment from operating at two airports and extra costs involved, including a need for potential additional handling contracts,” he said.
Shaeffer said he could not comment on the Group’s plans beyond 2015.